Friday, July 11, 2014

Match Day 18 - Sporting Begin the Second Half of the Season

Sporting KC begins the second half of their MLS season tomorrow in Canada when they'll take on the Montreal Impact at Stade Saputo. The Impact has been a welcome opponent for Sporting in the first half of the season. In their two prior meetings his season, Sporting has outscored the Impact 7-0, including a 3-0 win in Montreal earlier this season. That game saw one of the more dominating performances in MLS history in terms of possession and passing. The game tomorrow though likely won't have the same style to it as that one. Gone is one of the main players in that 800 plus pass game as Oriol Rosell has transferred to Sporting Lisbon.

Montreal is still struggling at the bottom of not only the Eastern Conference, but MLS as a whole. They've played one less game than Sporting KC at this point, but has only recorded 14 points in those 16 games. In their five home games since Kansas City's 3-0 win there, Montreal has played quite well at home, going 4-1 in those games, their only loss a 4-2 loss to DC United. Their last time out at home the Impact beat the Houston Dynamo 3-0.

Kansas City dropped more points at home last week with the draw against the Chicago Fire, the team's fifth draw at Sporting Park this season. On the road they've continued to get results that have helped keep KC near the top of the East, even with all their injury issues. A new name joined that list this week, with Eric Kronberg going down with a broken bone in his hand. That injury leaves just Seth Sinovic as the only regular starter for Sporting KC's defense that hasn't miss extended time this year. Andy Gruenebaum will get his first league start of the season tomorrow in place of the injured Kronberg. The good news is that Gruenebaum had been a regular starter for Columbus the last two years, starting 54 of the Crew's 68 games. So KC has plenty of experience behind Kronberg ready to step in. The big big question for KC will likely be whether Sporting's Matt Besler starts tomorrow. Him missing another game would add plenty of speculation to the Besler leaving campaign. He's supposed to be available though along with teammate Graham Zusi who returned last week in the draw with Chicago.

Juliao - Collin - Besler - Sinovic
Olum - Nagamura
Peterson - Dwyer - Zusi

Number to Remember - +1 - That's KC's goal difference this season without the +7 from KC's two games against Montreal. While KC is taking care of this team at the bottom of the league, they're not doing enough against the rest.

Key Match Up - Igor Juliao vs Justin Mapp - Mapp has been the Impact's main set up man, recording five assists for the Impact this season. Matching up against Juliao would seem to give Mapp the advantage. Juliao's defensive positioning was exposed badly against Chicago, especially on the goal when he didn't slide centrally when Aurelien Collin committed to pressure Alex after the Seth Sinovic turn over. Juliao has to read that and slide to the middle. Mapp is going to be a handful for the young Brazilian.

PREDICTION - I expect this game to be much different than the previous two games between these two teams. The Impact have been difficult at home since Sporting took them apart. KC will need to have a quick start like they did in the previous two games between the teams here. The longer that the game remains scoreless, the more confidence that Frank Klopas' team will get. With KC having the closest they've had to their best XI available in a long time, KC needs to get the result tomorrow to keep pace with DC United.

SKC - 2 (Dwyer, Collin)
MTL - 1 (McInerney)

1 comment:

hartley said...

If Besler starts, I would rather see Kevin Ellis at right back than Igor. Juliao is very good going forward, but his defensive positioning has kept dangerous players onside. He's young and will learn. Ellis is the better choice to solidify our defense in front of a keeper that hasn't been on the field much this season and did not show well in a loss to Portland in the U.S. Open Cup.

I also think Saad starts over Peterson. Soony is one of the few players who is passing well and had scored outside the eighteen. If he isn't getting it done or we get an early goal, then bring on JP to hustle hustle hustle.